Europe: Water surpluses to spread in Central Europe, esp Poland

20 December 2017


The 12-month forecast ending August 2018 (above) indicates widespread water deficits reaching exceptional severity on the Iberian Peninsula, much of France, Corsica, Sardinia, and into mainland Italy. Deficits of equal intensity are forecast for Estonia, Latvia, Finland, northern Norway, and central Sweden.

Severe to exceptional water surpluses are forecast for western Russia and Poland. Surpluses of varying severity are forecast for Ireland, northern United Kingdom, Germany, Czech Republic (Czechia), and reaching into other parts of Central Europe.

Italy was ravaged by severe floods in mid-December after earning the dubious title of driest country in Europe for the first nine months of 2017. Riverbanks in the northeastern towns of Lentigione and Colorno broke after heavy rains, displacing 2,000 people and necessitating helicopter rescue of 50 people stranded on rooftops.

Spain’s current water shortage is on track to evolve into its worst drought in over two decades. Reservoirs are at 37 percent capacity, 10 percent down from levels at this time last year, and vineyards are reporting 40 percent crop losses due to drought and frost.

Calling natural disasters "the new normal," the European Commission's president has announced ambitious plans for a continent-wide preparedness and rescue system. The system would establish a reserve of civil protection assets - forest fighting planes, water pumps, urban search and rescue, and field hospitals and emergency medical teams - financed by the EU to complement national assets in disaster response. The initiative promotes sharing and integration of national strategies to streamline response and reduce deployment time. This year 200 Europeans were killed and over 1 million hectares (247,000 acres) of forest were destroyed due to natural disasters.

The EU's Solidarity Fund has awarded Cyprus over €7 million (US$9.4 million) to restore areas damaged by prolonged drought and wildfires in 2016. The Fund offers aid for repairs and restoration from disaster events. 

The 3-month composites (below) for the same 12-month time period show the evolving conditions.

As is apparent in the December through February map, the extent of exceptional water deficits is expected to diminish considerably in Southern Europe, leaving primarily moderate deficits on the Iberian Peninsula, most of France, and Italy, with more intense deficits in southeastern France. Exceptional deficits will retreat somewhat in Scandinavia as well, but large pockets of extreme deficits will persist in Finland. Moderate to severe deficits will persist in England, southern Belgium, Estonia, and Latvia.

Exceptional surpluses will continue to emerge in a vast swath of western European Russia, increasing in extent and emerging in Belarus as well. Likewise, exceptional surpluses will continue to emerge in Poland reaching nearly the entire country, and surpluses of varying severity will emerge in greater extent in Central and Eastern Europe, particularly Germany, Czech Republic, Romania, and along many rivers. Surpluses in Ireland and northern UK will downgrade slightly to moderate, and moderate surpluses will emerge in Netherlands and southern Scandinavia. Parts of Kosovo, Macedonia, and Bulgaria will transition from deficit to surplus conditions.

From March through May the extent and intensity of surpluses in western European Russia and Central and Eastern Europe will diminish but surpluses will continue to emerge in a vast stretch of western Russia and in southern Norway into Sweden, eastern Belarus, Poland, northeastern Germany, and Switzerland. Surpluses are expected to be intense in central Poland. Mostly moderate deficits will persist on the Iberian Peninsula, France, pockets of Italy, Estonia, and Latvia, and severe deficits are forecast for Finland. Mild deficits will begin to emerge in the Balkans and may be severe in northern Serbia.

In the remaining months of the forecast – June through August 2018 – a transition to deficit conditions is forecast for nearly all of Europe.

(It should be noted that forecast skill declines with longer lead times.)

There are numerous regions around the world where country borders are contested. ISciences depicts country boundaries on these maps solely to provide some geographic context. The boundaries are nominal, not legal, descriptions of each entity. The use of these boundaries does not imply any judgement on the legal status of any territory, or any endorsement or acceptance of disputed boundaries on the part of ISciences or our data providers. 


Many analyses reported in ISciences-authored blog posts are based on data generated by the ISciences Water Security Indicator Model (WSIM). Other sources, if used, are referenced in footnotes accompanying individual posts. WSIM is a validated capability that produces monthly reports on current and forecast global freshwater surpluses and deficits with lead times of 1-9 months at 0.5°x0.5° resolution. This capability has been in continuous operation since April 2011 and has proven to provide reliable forecasts of emerging water security concerns in that time-frame. WSIM has the ability to assess the impacts of water anomalies on people, agriculture, and electricity generation. Detailed data, customized visualizations, and reports are available for purchase.

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